Ivan, Jennifer and I woke up really early on November 21, 2008. We got on a bus at 8:30 am going from Hue to Hoi An. The bus ride was a four and a half hour ride. I watched Tarzan on Ivan’s iPod. Ivan and Jennifer watched part of a British movie called Donkey Punch. I wanted to watch it as well. Apparently, it’s for adults only. We stopped for a lunch break.
We arrived in Hoi An. It was overcast. I wish the weather was better. Ivan said it will be better once we’re in Southern Vietnam. We checked in at the Thien Nga Hotel. We stopped by a stall on the sidewalk. They were making sandwiches. Jennifer tried the local pork sandwich.
Jennifer had them make me one with bananas and cheese. Ivan had one with cheese, cucumbers, onions and chili sauce. The sandwiches were so delicious! We decided to get another one. Jennifer got the cheese one this one. She said it was definitely better than the pork version. We walked around the city. We saw The Japanese Bridge.
We walked across it and there was lots of shops selling souvenirs. Next, we walked through the markets. I didn’t mention that a couple Vietnamese people think Jennifer is from Vietnam. She’ll say she’s from America. Then, they ask are you Vietnam? I don’t see it. We saw Sylvia and Kylie, mother and daughter, from Canada. We met them on the boat in Halong Bay.
The market is filled with food (my favorite bananas!), shoes, and souvenirs.
We walked around some more. We found a good bar called Before n Now. There was great music. The artwork on the walls are really cool.
I got to order a mocktail (a fake cocktail) with bananas. The menu had a few banana drinks. Ivan and Jennifer had a few drinks. Later on, we went inside to play some foosball. Ivan and Jennifer played a few games. They’re both really competitive.
The bar is a great place to hang out in. The bar also has a pool table. We left to find dinner. We ran into the Israeli couple we originally met on the Sapa tour. We caught up with them for a few minutes. It’s funny how when you’re traveling you run into people you’ve met before. We ate an okay dinner. We went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
We checked out of the Thien Nga hotel on November 22, 2008. We had some complimentary breakfast. Then, we stored our luggage and went out. We were attending a cooking school today. We walked to the Hai Cafe. We were allowed one non-alcoholic drink. Ivan got ginger tea. Jennifer had orange juice and I got the banana juice. There was lots of people here for the class. We got divided into groups. We left with our group and started walking to the markets. Our group leader was named Mr. T. His name is actually a Vietnamese name starting with T – but he thought it’d be easier to just use Mr. T.
He showed us different food used in Vietnamese cooking. Mr. T. also showed us different cooking items like a grater or a knife. After the market, we walked to the boat. Our boat ride was about 25 minutes long. It was taking us to the Red Bridge Cooking School. Everybody got off the boat and we walked to the herb garden. We were told about the different herbs used in Vietnamese dishes.
It was time for our class. We walked to the cooking area. There was 12 people and 1 monkey. We were going to learn four dishes and food decoration. The teacher showed us the seafood salad served in a half pineapple boat. Next, we learned how to make rice paper. This was really tricky to make, Jennifer’s first attempt collapsed in her hands as she picked it up – so she had another attempt which turned out a lot better.
We then learnt to make spring rolls with shrimp. I asked if I could make spring rolls with banana, and they told me its not really the ‘done’ thing, but seeing as I was a monkey they would make an allowance for me. Next came Hoi An Pancakes – which are pancakes stuffed with shrimp and vegetables. Jennifer thought she was doing pretty well while cooking the pancake, and asked the teacher if the pancake was ‘ready’ to lift off the steamer. She was told that in fact it was ‘too ready’ – and she lifted it off and it was all smoking. She had another attempt which turned out better this time.
She also thought her next dish – the ‘Vietnamese Eggplant in Clay Pot’ – to be a success.
After the lesson we sat down in the restaurant to eat all the food we had cooked -we were also given some fish to eat as well, which we hadn’t been taught the recipe for, but no complaining was done, because it was so delicious! I’m really looking forward to cooking a Vietnamese meal for my dad big Dave, when I see him next. My dad thinks I’m too young to be able to cook food, so I will show him how wrong he is, and cook him a really yummy meal! I’ll just remember to give him a banana in between all the courses, to make sure he’s really happy!
On the way back from the cooking school, we watched a boat guy catch some fish from the river. He seemed very proud of his catch!
That evening we jumped onto a Sleeper Bus to Nha Trang – our next destination.